Premiership, Round Seven - Teams and Predictions
WELCOME BACK: Premiership Rugby gets back underway this weekend after three weeks away, and there’s no better way to kick-start the action than with a West Country derby on Friday.
Bristol Bears welcome Bath Rugby to Ashton Gate in what is sure to be an enthralling encounter, with the hosts looking to maintain their lead at the top of the table.
With thrills and spills expected as the two sides go head-to-head, it will be Wayne Barnes who will be trying to maintain some order throughout the 80 minutes.
And that’s not the only action rugby fans have got to enjoy on Friday, with Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks facing off under the floodlights at Welford Road on the same evening.
Moving on to Saturday, and the second double-header of the weekend sees defending champions Exeter Chiefs head to Sixways to play Worcester Warriors, with both sides looking to get back to winning ways.
The hosts are without a win since November, while Rob Baxter’s Chiefs have lost their last two league matches, having gone down to both Bristol and Wasps since the turn of the year.
Saturday also promises a scintillating Gallagher Premiership Rugby clash between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm, with Karl Dickson tasked with keeping the players in check.
After four consecutive defeats, the Cherry and Whites will be fighting tooth and nail to get that all-important victory, with the visitors looking to get straight back into the thick of it after being out of action since Boxing Day.
Sunday’s drama gets underway at the Brentford Community Stadium, as Newcastle Falcons make the journey from the north-east to the capital to face London Irish.
The hosts fought back valiantly to rescue a 27-27 draw with Harlequins last time out, and they will have to be at their best once again this weekend, as Dean Richards’ Falcons look to continue their amazing start to the season.
The final action of the weekend sees Wasps and Harlequins face off at the Ricoh Arena, with the visitors playing in their first match since Paul Gustard left his role as head coach at The Stoop.
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Friday, January 29
Bristol Bears v Bath Rugby
(Ashton Gate – kick-off 19.45, 19.45 GMT)
Bristol Bears solitary defeat in their last seven encounters was 38-51 at home to Clermont in Round 1 of the European Champions Cup. Bristol have lost only once at Ashton Gate in Premiership Rugby since December 2019: 22-25 to Exeter Chiefs in August.
Bath Rugby’s most recent victory (excluding the walkover win over London Irish) was 33-17 at Worcester in Gallagher Premiership Rugby on 5 December. Bath have not been victorious at the Rec in the competition since beating Gloucester there in Round 21 last season.
Bristol’s only defeat in their last five fixtures against Bath was 19-26 in “The Clash” at Twickenham in April 2019. Bath’s only previous victory at Ashton Gate in Premiership Rugby was in March 2008.
@rugby365com: Bristol by 15 points.
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 John Afoa, 2 Bryan Byrne, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Jake Armstrong, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Alapati Leiua
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Josh Bayliss, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Josh McNally (captain), 3 Christian Judge, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Joe Cokanasiga
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe and Luke Pearce
TMO: Tom Foley
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks
(Welford Road – kick-off: 19.45, 19.45 GMT)
Leicester Tigers most recent defeat, excluding walkovers, was 13-35 at home to Exeter in Round 3 of Premiership Rugby. That defeat is the Tigers’ only one at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in any tournament since October.
Sale Sharks have won their last two Premiership Rugby encounters, at Gloucester and at home to Worcester. The Sharks have been defeated only once away from home in Premiership Rugby since August: 13-15 at Newcastle on 27 November.
Sale have won their last four fixtures against Leicester in all competitions, their best ever sequence against the Tigers. The Sharks beat Tigers at Welford Road in September and have never won back to back Premiership Rugby encounters at the venue.
@rugby365com: Leicester Tigers by 5 points.
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Luan de Bruin
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 George Martin, 21 Cyle Brink, 22 Jack Van Poortvliet, 23 Johnny McPhillips
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Sam Dugdale, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 James Phillips, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Tom Roebuck
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Jamie Leahy
TMO: Christophe Ridley
Saturday, January 30
Gloucester Rugby v Northampton Saints
(Kingsholm – kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
Gloucester’s only victory in their last six fixtures in all competitions was 38-24 at home to Ulster in Round 2 of the European Champions Cup. The Cherry & Whites have won only once at home in Premiership Rugby since September (excluding walkovers), 40-24 against Wasps at the end of November.
Northampton’s most recent match was the 29-10 victory over Worcester at Franklin’s Gardens on Boxing Day, that win ended an unwanted sequence of twelve successive defeats in all competitions. The Saints have not been victorious on their travels since beating London Irish at the Stoop last August.
The fixture between the two clubs at Kingsholm last season was declared a Gloucester victory due to the health crisis. The Saints have beaten Gloucester just once since January 2018: 33-26 at Franklins Gardens in December 2019 whilst, their most recent victory at Kingsholm was on New Year’s Day 2017.
@rugby365com: Northampton Saints by 3 points.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Santiago Carreras, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Henry Walker, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Tom Seabrook, 23 Kyle Moyle.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Piers Francis, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (co-captain), 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Alex Coles, 21 Tom James, 22 Fraser Dingwall, 23 Tommy Freeman.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson and Mike Hudson
TMO: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
(Sixways – kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
Excluding the declared win against Harlequins in Round 5 of Premiership Rugby, Worcester Warriors have not won since beating London Irish by a single point at Sixways on 21 November.
Exeter Chiefs have lost their last two Premiership Rugby fixtures, at Wasps and at home to Bristol. The Chiefs most recent away victory came at Leicester in Premiership Rugby on 5 December.
Exeter have lost only once in 16 previous fixtures against Worcester in Premiership Rugby: 5-6 at Sandy Park in February 2018.
@rugby365com: Exeter Chiefs by 10 points.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Nick David, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Justin Clegg, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Sam Lewis, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Francois Venter.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Richard Capstick, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 James Kenny, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Don Armand, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding and Phil Watters
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Sunday, January 31
London Irish v Newcastle Falcons
(Brentford Community Stadium – kick-off: 14.30, 14.300GMT)
London Irish have not won in Premiership Rugby since beating Leicester at their new home on 29 November, since then the Exiles have payed two more matches at the venue losing to Sale in Premiership Rugby and beating Pau in the European Challenge Cup.
Newcastle Falcons only defeat since Cardiff Blues beat them at Kingston Park in mid-December was 17-29 at Bristol in Round 5 of Premiership Rugby. The Tynesiders have not lost successive away games since their final two trips of the 2018/19 campaign.
The Falcons have won their last three encounters against London Irish since the Exiles 20-15 victory at Madejski Stadium in January 2016.
@rugby365com: Newcastle Falcons by 7 points.
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Seàn O’Brien, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Blair Cowan, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Terrence Hepetema.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Toby Flood (co-captain), 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Gary Graham, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Sean Robinson (co-captain), 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Will Montgomery, 20 John Hardie, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Brett Connon, 23 George Wacokecoke.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley and Roy Maybank
TMO: Karl Dickson
Wasps v Harlequins
(Ricoh Arena – kick-off: 15.00, 15.00 GMT)
Wasps have won their last five matches in all competitions since their 17 27 reversal to Newcastle at Ricoh Arena in December. This is their only defeat at the venue since August.
Harlequins most recent victory was 34-24 at Gloucester in Round 3 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. Excluding walkovers, Harlequins have won their last five away games in Premiership Rugby, their best away sequence in the competition since 2011.
Both fixtures last season in Premiership Rugby were won by the away side on the day. Harlequins only other victory at Ricoh Arena was 24-21 in September 2017.
@rugby365com: Wasps by 12 points.
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Matteo Minozzi, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Will Porter, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Thomas Young (captain), 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Sam Wolstenholme, 22 Michael Le Bourgeois, 23 Rob Miller.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aaron Morris, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Archie White, 5 Stephan Lewies (c), 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Glen Young, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 James Lang, 23 Tyrone Green.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal and Sara Cox
TMO: Stuart Terheege